Exploring Religious Conflict

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RAND, 2005 - Philosophy - 64 pages
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September 11th drove home the fact that the United States and its intelligence community must directly address the issue of religious motivations for violence. This document reports the result of a three day workshop organized by the RAND Corporation to bring together intelligence analysts and experts on religion with the goal of providing background and a frame of reference for assessing religious motivations in international politics and discovering what may cause religiously rooted violence-with emphasis on radical Islam. The group considered three phenomena: (1) "cosmic war"-a concept referring to the metaphysical battle between the forces of Good and Evil that enlivens the religious imagination and compels violent action; (2) radical fundamentalist violence and states that use it for political gain; and (3) new religious movements (NRMs), often referred to as cults, and why some may turn violent. The group concluded that the watchword for policy might well be to try to guide Islamic NRMs toward the social mainstream of the Muslim world, daunting though that task may appear at present.

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About the author (2005)

Gregory F. Treverton is director of the RAND Corporation's Center for Global Risk and Security. Earlier, he directed RAND's Intelligence Policy Center and its International Security and Defense Policy Center and was associate dean of the Pardee RAND Graduate School. His recent work has focused on terrorism, intelligence and law enforcement, with a special interest in new forms of public-private partnership. Dr Treverton has served in government for the first Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, handling Europe for the National Security Council (NSC); most recently, he served as vice chair of the National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs). He holds a B.A. summa cum laude from Princeton University and a master's degree in public policy and a Ph.D. in economics and politics, both from Harvard University. His books include Reshaping National Intelligence for an Age of Information (Cambridge University Press, 2001), New Challenges, New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking (2003) and National Intelligence Systems: Current Research and Future Prospects (Cambridge University Press, 2009, coedited with Wilhelm Agrell).

Heather S. Gregg is an assistant professor at the Naval Postgraduate School s Department of Defense Analysis. Prior to joining the faculty at NPS, she was an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation. In addition to academic experience, she has spent time in several regions of conflict including Palestine/West Bank, Croatia, and Bosnia.

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